In 2019, I copied what my mum’s been doing for years and kept a list of all the books I’d finished. Even though I just wrote down titles and authors, when I looked back at it so I could input them all into this new website I just joined called Goodreads which I think is really going to take off, the list awoke a lot of memories and feelings. It became a reminder of my imaginative pathway through the year.
It’s felt difficult to make concrete resolutions this year, but one of the things I’d like to do is a weekly look back at what I’ve listened to, watched, and read – an imaginative pathway through 2020. I don’t have anything better to call it, so I’m calling it Review of the Week (RotW). I’m an introvert, I spend a lot of my free time indoors, and I’m very invested in the arts, culture, and media I consume, and I’d like to consider all of that in a meaningful framework rather than feeling guilty about never going outside.
Plus it gives me something to do with these fucking Sunday afternoons. I cannot get the hang of Sunday afternoons.
I’m sharing these Reviews of the Week publicly because every now and then I remember how much I pay for a website with my name on it just so I can be the Emily Holyoake on the first page of Google.
Jools’ Annual Hootenanny
What?: End of year music TV programme where the set’s a big clock and the response to HOOTENANNY is HOOTENANNYYYYYYY
Hootenanny is my parents’ countdown-to-the-new-year programme of choice. I like to imagine it’s not a choice I would make independently, but it’s probably as much my habit as theirs at this point since I do not remember a NYE without watching Jools Holland walking backwards and shouting (except, of course, the Millennium, when my dad was put in charge of the countdown and we missed it).
Hootenanny was irrevocably ruined for me a few years back when someone finally told me that it’s not a live broadcast and none of those people are really spending their New Year’s Eve with Jools Holland, which is basically the grown-up version of finding out about Santa.
Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma
What?: Non-fiction book tie-in to Sally Wainwright’s gorgeous drama, Gentleman Jack. Christmas gift from my sister’s lovely boyfriend.
I wish all non-fiction felt as fluid to read as this delicious book. Anne Choma’s The Real Anne Lister covers basically the same ground as series 1 of the show, so it’s not necessarily for you if you watched it and now want a more thorough biography, but it IS for you if you want to learn Anne Lister’s sexy euphemisms (‘grubbling’) and read about all the times she definitely Did Not Care if Ann Walker fancied her or not.
My intention with these reviews isn’t necessarily to tell you absolutely everything I consume in a week because you’d quickly become concerned about how many times I re-watch Hbomberguy’s 2 hour video on Pathologic, a game I have never played.
Which is another way of saying that, currently, leftist YouTube is pretty important to me, primarily as a source of entertainment, but also as a space to think stuff through and hear about ideas I don’t necessarily come across in my everyday life. Contrapoints has been a significant part of that for the last couple of years, and this video/full length feature film about being cancelled is worth your time. I’m cis and I don’t think any further commentary from me on the situation is valuable, but the video is included here because it left an impression on me this week, and I’d encourage you to watch it.
Doctor Who: Spyfall (Part One)
What?: OH MY GOD
Look, I’m apparently one of those trash people who loved everything about series 11 of Doctor Who (YES, EVEN KERBLAM), but I can still admit that Spyfall was a huge step up in almost every regard, and it’s easily my favourite series opener since Rose. I don’t give a shit about spy films unless they’re Austin Powers: Goldmember, but even I appreciated the bombastic mash-up of espionage tropes alongside a proper spooky sci-fi story, with a twist reveal that I DID NOT SEE COMING OH MY GOD
Anyway, I’m so excited for another season with this beautiful fam, and I’m preemptively not sorry if Doctor Who is in every single one of these weekly reviews.
What Am Politics? Episode 94: What Am Political Reflections, Meat Smoking, and Chrono-Bees?
What?: A weekly political podcast by Richie and Steve, in which Steve usually attempts to help Richie understand the big issues of the day, but in this episode they mostly set things on fire by accident.
What Am Politics? was one of the first podcasts I ever got into and I still look forward to it every week. Richie and Steve tackle both current and historical politics, usually with beer, and often with brilliant guests. If you’re a newcomer then start at the beginning, or just go full throttle into it and start with Steve’s completely overwhelming two-part biography of Teddy Roosevelt. They also do annual Eurovision episodes. That’s either a plus or a minus depending on whether or not you are wrong.
My particular takeaway from this reflective/recap episode was some thoughtful discussion about the old ‘echo chamber’ problem, and interesting suggestions about making social media less anxiety-provoking.
Gerry Cinnamon: Canter
What?: This one’s a song! Given to me by the Spotify algorithm! All hail the algorithm!
This cropped up in my ~discover weekly~ a while ago, but I listened to it a lot this week because I only just realised that THE WANKER IS ME and I feel like that’s a good place to end. Ta for reading, and see you next week.